Edgar Cayce: Ordinary Man, Extraordinary Messenger

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Mitch Horowitz, New Dawn
Waking Times

The year 1910 marked a turning point in Western spirituality. It saw the deaths of some of the most luminous religious thinkers of the nineteenth century, including psychologist-seeker William James; popular medium Andrew Jackson Davis; and Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy. These three figures deeply impacted the movements in positive thinking, prayer healing, and psychical research.

Their death that year was accompanied by the rise to prominence of a new religious innovator – a figure who built upon the spiritual experiments of the nineteenth century to shape the New Age* culture of the dawning era.

In autumn of 1910 The New York Times brought the first major national attention to the name of Edgar Cayce, a young man who later became known as the “father of holistic medicine” and the founding voice of alternative spirituality.

The Sunday Times of 9 October 1910 profiled the Christian mystic and medical clairvoyant in an extensive article and photo spread: Illiterate Man Becomes a Doctor When Hypnotized. At the time Cayce (pronounced “Casey”), then 33, was struggling to make his way as a commercial photographer in his hometown of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, while delivering daily trance-based medical “readings” in which he would diagnose and prescribe natural cures for the illnesses of people he had never met.

Cayce’s method was to recline on a sofa or day bed, loosen his tie, belt, cuffs, and shoelaces, and enter a sleep-like trance; then, given only the name and location of a subject, the “sleeping prophet” was said to gain insight into the person’s body and psychology. By the time of his death in January 1945, Cayce had amassed a record of more than 14,300 clairvoyant readings for people across the nation, many of the sessions captured by stenographer Gladys Davis.

In the 1920s, Cayce’s trance readings expanded beyond medicine (which nonetheless remained at the core of his work) to include “life readings,” in which he explored a person’s inner conflicts and needs. In these sessions Cayce employed references to astrology, karma, reincarnation, and number symbolism. Other times, he expounded on global prophecies, climate or geological changes, and the lost history of mythical cultures, such as Atlantis and Lemuria. Cayce had no recollection of any of this when he awoke, though as a devout Christian the esotericism of such material made him wince when he read the transcripts.

Contrary to news coverage, Cayce was not illiterate, but neither was he well educated. Although he taught Sunday school at his Disciples of Christ church – and read through the King James Bible at least once every year – he had never made it past the eighth grade of a rural schoolhouse. While his knowledge of Scripture was encyclopaedic, Cayce’s reading tastes were otherwise limited. Aside from spending a few on-and-off years in Texas unsuccessfully trying to use his psychical abilities to strike oil – he had hoped to raise money to open a hospital based on his clairvoyant cures – Cayce rarely ventured beyond the Bible Belt environs of his childhood.

Since the tale of Jonah fleeing from the word of God, prophets have been characterised as reluctant, ordinary folk plucked from reasonably satisfying lives to embark on missions that they never originally sought. In this sense, if the impending New Age – the vast culture of Eastern, esoteric, and therapeutic spirituality that exploded on the US national scene in the 1960s and 70s – was seeking a founding prophet, Cayce could hardly be viewed as an unusual choice, but, historically, as a perfect one.

* The term “New Age” is often used to denote trendy or fickle spiritual tastes. I do not share in that usage. I use New Age to reference the eclectic culture of therapeutic and experimental spirituality that emerged in the late-twentieth century.

A Seer in Season

It was this Edgar Cayce – an everyday man, dedicated Christian, and uneasy mystic – whom New England college student and future biographer Thomas Sugrue encountered in 1927. When Sugrue met Cayce, the twenty-year-old journalism student was not someone who frequented psychics or séance parlours. Sugrue was a dedicated Catholic who had considered joining the priesthood. Deeply versed in world affairs and possessed of an iron determination to break into news reporting, Sugrue left his native Connecticut in 1926 for Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, which was then one of the only schools in the nation to offer a journalism degree to undergraduates. (Sugrue later switched his major to English literature, in which he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in four years.)

As a student, Sugrue rolled his eyes at paranormal claims or talk of ESP. Yet Sugrue met a new friend at Washington and Lee who challenged his preconceptions: the psychic’s eldest son, Hugh Lynn Cayce. Hugh Lynn had planned to attend Columbia but his father’s clairvoyant readings directed him instead to the old-line Virginia school. (The institution counted George Washington as an early benefactor.) Sugrue grew intrigued by his new friend’s stories about his father – in particular the elder Cayce’s theory that one person’s subconscious mind could communicate with another’s. The two freshmen enjoyed sparring intellectually and soon became roommates. While still cautious, Sugrue wanted to meet the agrarian seer.

Edgar and his wife Gertrude, meanwhile, were laying new roots about 250 miles east of Lexington in Virginia Beach, a location the readings had also selected. The psychic spent the remainder of his life in the Atlantic coastal town, delivering twice-daily readings and developing the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.), a spiritual learning centre that remains active there today.

Accompanying Hugh Lynn home in June 1927, Sugrue received a “life reading” from Cayce. In these psychological readings, Cayce was said to peer into a subject’s “past life” incarnations and influences, analyse his character through astrology and other esoteric methods, and view his personal struggles and aptitudes. Cayce correctly identified the young writer’s interest in the Middle East, a region where Sugrue later issued news reports on the founding of the modern state of Israel. But it wasn’t until Christmas of that year that Sugrue, upon receiving an intimate and uncannily accurate medical reading, became an all-out convert to Cayce’s psychical abilities.

Sugrue went on to fulfil his aim of becoming a journalist, writing from different parts of the world for publications including the New York Herald Tribune and The American Magazine. But his life remained interwoven with Cayce’s. Stricken by debilitating arthritis in the late 1930s, Sugrue sought help through Cayce’s medical readings. From 1939 to 1941, the ailing Sugrue lived with the Cayce family in Virginia Beach, writing and convalescing. During these years of close access to Cayce – while struggling with painful joints and limited mobility – Sugrue completed There Is a River, the sole biography written of Cayce during his lifetime, now available in a new edition. When the book first appeared in 1942 it brought Cayce national attention that surpassed even the earlier Times coverage.

Documenting the Prophet

Sugrue was not Cayce’s only enthusiast within the world of American letters. There Is a River broke through the sceptical wall of New York publishing thanks to a reputable editor, William Sloane, of Holt, Rinehart & Winston, who experienced his own brush with the Cayce readings.

In 1940, Sloane agreed to consider the manuscript for There Is a River. He knew the biography was highly sympathetic, a fact that did not endear him to it. Sloane’s wariness faded after Cayce’s clairvoyant diagnosis helped one of the editor’s children. Novelist and screenwriter Nora Ephron recounted the episode in a 1968 New York Times article.

“I read it,” Sloane told Ephron. “Now there isn’t any way to test a manuscript like this. So I did the only thing I could do.” He went on:

A member of my family, one of my children, had been in great and continuing pain. We’d been to all the doctors and dentists in the area and all the tests were negative and the pain was still there. I wrote Cayce, told him my child was in pain and would be at a certain place at such-and-such a time, and enclosed a check for $25. He wrote back that there was an infection in the jaw behind a particular tooth. So I took the child to the dentist and told him to pull the tooth. The dentist refused – he said his professional ethics prevented him from pulling sound teeth. Finally, I told him he would have to pull it. One tooth more or less didn’t matter, I said – I couldn’t live with the child in such pain. So he pulled the tooth and the infection was there and the pain went away. I was a little shook. I’m the kind of man who believes in X-rays. About this time, a member of my staff who thought I was nuts to get involved with this took even more precautions in writing to Cayce than I did, and he sent her back facts about her own body only she could have known. So I published Sugrue’s book.

Many literary journalists and historians since Sugrue have traced Cayce’s life. Journalist and documentarian Sidney D. Kirkpatrick wrote the landmark record of Cayce in his 2000 biography Edgar Cayce. Historian K. Paul Johnson crafted a deeply balanced and meticulous scholarly analysis of Cayce with the 1998 Edgar Cayce in Context. And the intrepid scholar of religion Harmon Bro – who spent nine months in Cayce’s company toward the end of the psychic’s life – produced insightful studies of Cayce as a Christian mystic in his 1955 University of Chicago doctoral thesis (a groundbreaking work of modern scholarship on an occult subject) and later in the 1989 biography Seer Out of Season. While Harmon Bro died in 1997, his family has a long – and still active – literary involvement with Cayce. Bro’s mother, Margueritte, was a pioneering female journalist in the first half of the twentieth century who brought Cayce national attention in her 1943 profile in Coronet magazine: “Miracle Man of Virginia Beach.” Bro’s wife June and daughter Pamela actively teach and interpret the Cayce ideas today.

There exist many other works on Cayce – it would take several paragraphs to appreciate the best of them. But it was Sugrue, an accomplished print journalist who worked and convalesced with Cayce for several years, who fully – and this word is chosen carefully – captured Cayce’s goodness.

Sugrue’s historical Edgar Cayce is the man who grew from being an awkward, soft-voiced adolescent to a national figure who never quite knew how to manage his fame – and less so how to manage money, often foregoing or deferring his usual $20 fee for readings, leaving himself and his family in a perpetual state of financial precariousness. In a typical letter from 1940, Cayce replied to a blind labourer who asked about paying in instalments: “You may take care of the [fee] any way convenient to your self – please know one is not prohibited from having a reading… because they haven’t money. If this information is of a divine source it can’t be sold, if it isn’t then it isn’t worth any thing.”

Sugrue also captured Cayce as a figure of deep Christian faith struggling to come to terms with the occult concepts that ran through his readings beginning in the early 1920s. This material extended to numerology, astrology, crystal gazing, modern prophecies, reincarnation, karma, and the story of mythical civilisations, including Atlantis and prehistoric Egypt. People who sought readings were intrigued and emotionally impacted by this material as much as by Cayce’s medical diagnoses. What’s more, in readings that dealt with spiritual and esoteric topics – along with the more familiar readings that focused on holistic remedies, massage, meditation, and natural foods – there began to emerge the range of subjects that formed the parameters of therapeutic New Age spirituality in the latter twentieth century.

READ: 80 Years Ago Edgar Cayce Predicted Putin’s Role in Stopping WW3

Esoteric Philosopher

Cayce did more than assemble a catalogue of the dawning New Age. The spiritual ideas running through his readings, combined with his own intrepid study of Scripture, supplied the basis for a universal approach to religion, which, in various ways, also spread across American culture. Sugrue captures this especially well in chapter fifteen, which recounts Cayce’s metaphysical explorations with an Ohio printer and Theosophist named Arthur Lammers. Cayce’s collaboration with Lammers, which began in the autumn of 1923 in Selma, Alabama, marked a turn in Cayce’s career from medical clairvoyant to esoteric philosopher.

Licking his wounds after his failed oil ventures, Cayce had resettled his family in Selma where he planned to resume his career as a commercial photographer. He and Gertrude, who had long suffered her husband’s absences and unsteady finances, enrolled their son Hugh Lynn, then sixteen, in Selma High School. The family, now including five-year-old Edgar Evans, settled into a new home and appeared headed for some measure of domestic normalcy. All this got upturned in September, however, when the wealthy printer Lammers arrived from Dayton. Lammers had learned of Cayce during the psychic’s oil-prospecting days. He showed up at Cayce’s photo studio with an intriguing proposition.

Lammers was both a hard-driving businessman and an avid seeker in Theosophy, ancient religions, and the occult. He impressed upon Cayce that the seer could use his psychical powers for more than medical diagnoses. Lammers wanted Cayce to probe the secrets of the ages: What happens after death? Is there a soul? Why are we alive? Lammers yearned to understand the meaning of the pyramids, astrology, alchemy, the “Etheric World,” reincarnation, and the mystery religions of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. He felt certain that Cayce’s readings could part the veil shrouding the ageless wisdom.

After years of stalled progress in his personal life, Cayce was enticed by this new sense of mission. Lammers urged Cayce to return with him to Dayton, where he promised to place the Cayce family in a new home and financially care for them. Cayce agreed, and uprooted Gertrude and their younger son, Edgar Evans. Hugh Lynn remained behind with friends in Selma to finish out the school term. Lammers’s financial promises later proved elusive and Cayce’s Dayton years, which preceded his move to Virginia Beach, turned into a period of financial despair. Nonetheless, for Cayce, if not his loved ones, Dayton also marked a stage of unprecedented discovery.

Cayce and Lammers began their explorations at a downtown hotel on 11 October 1923. In the presence of several onlookers, Lammers arranged for Cayce to enter a trance and to give the printer an astrological reading. Whatever hesitancies the waking Cayce evinced over arcane subjects vanished while he was in his trance state. Cayce expounded on the validity of astrology even as “the Source” – what Cayce called the ethereal intelligence behind his readings – alluded to misconceptions in the Western model. Toward the end of the reading, Cayce almost casually tossed off that it was Lammers’s “third appearance on this [earthly] plane. He was once a monk.” It was an unmistakable reference to reincarnation – just the type of insight Lammers had been seeking.

In the weeks ahead, the men continued their readings, probing into Hermetic and esoteric spirituality. From a trance state on 18 October, Cayce laid out for Lammers a whole philosophy of life, dealing with karmic rebirth, man’s role in the cosmic order, and the hidden meaning of existence:

In this we see the plan of development of those individuals set upon this plane, meaning the ability (as would be manifested from the physical) to enter again into the presence of the Creator and become a full part of that creation. Insofar as this entity is concerned, this is the third appearance on this plane, and before this one, as the monk. We see glimpses in the life of the entity now as were shown in the monk, in his mode of living. The body is only the vehicle ever of that spirit and soul that waft through all times and ever remain the same.

These phrases were, for Lammers, the golden key to the mysteries: a theory of eternal recurrence, or reincarnation, that identified man’s destiny as inner refinement through karmic cycles of rebirth, then reintegration with the source of Creation. This, the printer believed, was the hidden truth behind the Scriptural injunction to be “born again” so as to “enter the kingdom of Heaven.”

“It opens up the door,” Lammers told Cayce. “It’s like finding the secret chamber of the Great Pyramid.” He insisted that the doctrine that came through the readings synchronised the great wisdom traditions: “It’s Hermetic, it’s Pythagorean, it’s Jewish, it’s Christian!” Cayce himself wasn’t sure what to believe. “The important thing,” Lammers reassured him, “is that the basic system which runs through all the mystery traditions, whether they come from Tibet or the pyramids of Egypt, is backed up by you. It’s actually the right system…. It not only agrees with the best ethics of religion and society, it is the source of them.”

Lammers’s enthusiasms aside, the religious ideas that emerged from Cayce’s readings did articulate a compelling theology. Cayce’s teachings sought to marry a Christian moral outlook with the cycles of karma and reincarnation central to Hindu and Buddhist ways of thought, as well as the Hermetic concept of man as an extension of the Divine. Cayce’s references elsewhere to the causative powers of the mind – “the spiritual is the LIFE; the mental is the BUILDER; the physical is the RESULT” – melded his cosmic philosophy with tenets of New Thought, Christian Science, and mental healing. If there was an inner philosophy unifying the world’s religions, Cayce came as close as any modern person in defining it.

Cayce’s “Source”

Religious traditionalists could rightly object: Just where are Cayce’s “insights” coming from? Are they the product of a Higher Power or merely the overactive imagination of a religious outlier? Or, worse, are his phrases the type of muddle-fuddle produced by haunts at Ouija board sessions?

Cayce himself wrestled with these questions. His response was that all of his ideas, whatever their source, had to square with Gospel ethics in order to be judged vital and right. Cayce addressed this in a talk that he delivered in his normal waking state in Norfolk, Virginia, in February of 1933, just before he turned fifty-six:

Many people ask me how I prevent undesirable influences entering into the work I do. In order to answer that question let me relate an experience I had as a child. When I was between eleven and twelve years of age I had read the Bible through three times. I have now read it fifty-six times. No doubt many people have read it more times than that, but I have tried to read it through once for each year of my life. Well, as a child I prayed that I might be able to do something for the other fellow, to aid others in understanding themselves, and especially to aid children in their ills. I had a vision one day which convinced me that my prayer had been heard and answered.

Cayce’s “vision” has been described differently by different biographers. Sugrue recounts the episode occurring when Cayce was about twelve in the woods outside his home in western Kentucky. Cayce himself places it in his bedroom at age thirteen or fourteen. One night, this adolescent boy who had spoken of childhood conversations with “hidden friends,” and who hungrily read through Scripture, knelt by his bed and prayed for the ability to help others.

Just before drifting to sleep, Cayce recalled, a glorious light filled the room and a feminine apparition appeared at the foot of his bed telling him: “Thy prayers are heard. You will have your wish. Remain faithful. Be true to yourself. Help the sick, the afflicted.”

Cayce did not realise until years later what form his answered prayers would take – and even in his twenties it took him years to adjust to being a medical clairvoyant. As his new powers took shape he laboured to use Scripture as his moral vetting mechanism. Yet he consistently attributed his information to the “Source” – another subject on which he expanded at Norfolk:

As a matter of fact, there would seem to be not only one, but several sources of information that I tap when in this sleep condition. One source is, apparently, the recording that an individual or entity makes in all its experiences through what we call time. The sum-total of the experiences of that soul is “written,” so to speak, in the subconscious of that individual as well as in what is known as the Akashic records. Anyone may read these records if he can attune himself properly.

Cayce’s concept of the “Akashic records” is derived from ancient Vedic writings, in which akasha is a kind of universal ether. This idea of universal records was popularised to Westerners in the late nineteenth-century through the work of occult philosopher, world traveller, and Theosophy co-founder Madame H.P. Blavatsky.

A generation before Cayce, Blavatsky told of a hidden philosophy at the core of the historic faiths – and of a cosmic record bank that catalogs all human events. In Blavatsky’s 1877 study of occult philosophy, Isis Unveiled, the Theosophist described an all-pervasive magnetic ether that “keeps an unmutilated record of all that was, that is, or ever will be.” These astral records, wrote Blavatsky, preserve “a vivid picture for the eye of the seer and prophet to follow.” Blavatsky equated this archival ether with the “Book of Life” from Revelation.

Returning to the topic in her massive 1888 study of occult history, The Secret Doctrine, Blavatsky depicted these etheric records in more explicitly Vedic terms (having spent several preceding years in India). In the first of her two-volume study, Blavatsky referred to “Akâsic or astral-photographs” – inching closer to the term “Akashic records” as used by Cayce.

Cayce was not the first channeller to credit the “Akashic records” as his source of data. In 1908, a retired Civil War chaplain and Church of Christ pastor named Levi H. Dowling said that he clairvoyantly channelled an alternative history of Christ in The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. In Dowling’s influential account, the Son of man travels and studies throughout the religious cultures of the East before dispensing a message of universal faith that encompasses all the world’s traditions. Dowling, too, attributed his insights to the “Akashic records,” accessed while in a trance state in his Los Angeles living room.

Cayce, like Blavatsky, equated akasha with the Scriptural Book of Life. This was an example of how Cayce harmonised the exotic and unfamiliar themes of his readings with his Christian worldview. In a similar vein, he reinterpreted the ninth chapter of the Book of John, in which Christ heals a man who had been blind from birth, to validate ideas of karma and reincarnation. When the disciples ask Christ whether it was the man’s sins or those of his parents that caused his affliction, the Master replies enigmatically: “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3). In Cayce’s reasoning, since the blind man was born with his disorder, and Christ exonerates both the man and his parents, his disability must be karmic baggage from a previous incarnation. Cayce made comparable interpretations of passages from Matthew and Revelation.

In another effort to unite the poles of different traditions, Cayce elsewhere associated his esoteric search with Madame Blavatsky’s. On four occasions he reported being visited by a mysterious, turbaned spiritual master from the East – one of the mahatmas, or great souls, whom Blavatsky said had guided her.

The Legacy

Neither Cayce nor Sugrue lived long enough to witness the full reach of Cayce’s ideas. The psychic died at age sixty-seven in Virginia Beach on 3 January 1945, less than three years after There Is a River first appeared. Sugrue updated the book that year. After struggling with years of illness, the biographer died at age forty-five on 6 January 1953 at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York.

The first popularisations of Cayce’s work began to appear in 1950 with the publication of Many Mansions, an enduring work on reincarnation by Gina Cerminara, a longtime Cayce devotee. But it wasn’t until 1956 that Cayce’s name took full flight across the culture with the appearance of the sensationally popular book The Search for Bridey Murphy by Morey Bernstein. Sugrue’s editor Sloane, having since warmed to parapsychology, published both Cerminara and Bernstein.

Bernstein was an iconic figure. A Coloradan of Jewish descent and an Ivy League-educated dealer in heavy machinery and scrap metal, he grew inspired by Cayce’s career – partly through the influence of Sugrue’s book – and became an amateur hypnotist. In the early 1950s, Bernstein conducted a series of experiments with a Pueblo, Colorado, housewife who, while under a hypnotic trance, appeared to regress into a past-life persona: an early nineteenth-century Irish country girl named Bridey Murphy. The entranced homemaker spoke in an Irish brogue and recounted to Bernstein comprehensive details of her life more than a century earlier.

Suddenly, reincarnation – an ancient Vedic concept about which Americans had heard little before World War II – was the latest craze, ignited by Bernstein, an avowed admirer of Cayce, to whom the hypnotist devoted two chapters in his book.

In the following decade, California journalist Jess Stearn further ramped up interest in Cayce with his 1967 bestseller, Edgar Cayce,HYPERLINK “http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0553260855/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0553260855&linkCode=as2&tag=wakitime09-20&linkId=CNHZBUYEZZ2C4PYS” The Sleeping Prophet. With the mystic sixties in full swing, and the youth culture embracing all forms of alternative or Eastern spirituality – from Zen to yoga to psychedelics – Cayce, while not explicitly tied to any of this, rode the new vogue in alternative spirituality. During this time, Hugh Lynn Cayce emerged as a formidable custodian of his father’s legacy, presiding over the expansion of the Virginia Beach-based Association for Research and Enlightenment, and shepherding to market a new wave of instructional guides based on the Cayce teachings, from dream interpretation to drug-free methods of relaxation to the spiritual uses of colours, crystals, and numbers. Cayce’s name became a permanent fixture on the cultural landscape.

The 1960s and 70s also saw a new generation of channelled literature – Cayce himself originated the term channel – from higher intelligences such as Seth, Ramtha, and even the figure of Christ in A Course in Miracles. The last was a profound and enduring lesson series, channelled beginning in 1965 by Columbia University research psychiatrist Helen Schucman.

A concordance of tone and values existed between Cayce’s readings and A Course in Miracles. Cayce’s devotees and the Course’s wide array of readers discovered that they had a lot in common; members of both cultures blended seamlessly, attending many of the same seminars, growth centres, and metaphysical churches.

Likewise, a congruency emerged between Cayce’s world and followers of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Starting in the 1970s, twelve-steppers of various stripes became a familiar presence at Cayce conferences and events in Virginia Beach.

Cayce’s universalistic religious message dovetailed with the purposefully flexible references to a Higher Power in the “Big Book,” Alcoholics Anonymous, written in 1939. AA cofounder Bill Wilson, his wife Lois, his confidant Bob Smith, and several other early AAs were deeply versed in mystical and mediumistic teachings. Whether they viewed Cayce as an influence is unclear. But all three works – the Cayce readings, A Course in Miracles, and Alcoholics Anonymous – demonstrated a shared sense of religious liberalism, an encouragement that all individuals seek their own conception of a Higher Power, and a permeability intended to accommodate the broadest expression of religious outlooks and backgrounds.

The free-flowing tone of the therapeutic spiritual movements of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries had a shared antecedent, if not a direct ancestry, in the Cayce readings.

Sugrue provided an irreplaceable record of Cayce’s development as a spiritual messenger and pioneer. The biographer captured the seer as the person who Cayce himself said he was: An ordinary man who struggled with his apparent psychical abilities and the universal religious ideas that travelled through him.

But Sugrue’s work accomplished more than just that. His portrait of Cayce, in its own right, became a formative document of New Age spirituality. In exploring Cayce’s career, Sugrue highlighted and popularised core themes from the Cayce readings – including past-life experiences, alternative medical treatments, the imperative of the individual spiritual search, and the idea of religion as a practical source of healing.

Sugrue demonstrated how Cayce – a committed Christian, a Sunday school teacher, and, by his own reckoning, an everyday man – developed into the founding prophet of Aquarian Age spirituality. In capturing the drama and events of Cayce’s journey, Sugrue elevated the clarity and endurance of the seer’s message.

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„This article is adapted from Mitch Horowitz’s introduction to the reissue of There Is a River: The Story of Edgar Cayce (Tarcher/Penguin and A.R.E. Press, 2015). The book is available from all good bookstores and online retailers.

About the Author

MITCH HOROWITZ is a PEN Award-winning historian and the author of Occult America andOne Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life. He has written on alternative spirituality for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, and is the host of the new web series Origins: Superstitions (www.OriginsTheSeries.com). Visit him @MitchHorowitz and www.MitchHorowitz.com.

The above article appeared in New Dawn 150 (May-June 2015)

© New Dawn Magazine and the respective author.

© Copyright New Dawn Magazine, http://www.newdawnmagazine.com. Permission granted to freely distribute this article for non-commercial purposes if unedited and copied in full, including this notice.

© Copyright New Dawn Magazine, http://www.newdawnmagazine.com. Permission to re-send, post and place on web sites for non-commercial purposes, and if shown only in its entirety with no changes or additions. This notice must accompany all re-posting.

 

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Spiritual Freedom in the West: Are We Drifting Into a Culture of Suppression?

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David Gardner, The Conscious Reporter

Increasingly in the West practitioners of alternative spirituality are subjected to discrimination and censorship. It’s sobering to look at the possible outcomes of living in a society where spiritual freedoms are heavily restricted. This article looks at the Chinese government’s oppression of spirituality as an example, to illustrate why we should not take our spiritual rights and freedoms for granted.

There is a dark agenda currently threatening spiritual freedom throughout the world, and it seems to be progressing at an alarming rate.

As recently exposed here on The Conscious Reporter:

In the mainstream media alternative spirituality is frequently illegitimately portrayed with a negative bias as our greatest fears are turned against us in order to manipulate our view of alternative spirituality as a whole.

Despite this, there are many people who feel that standing up for our right to access and practice the spirituality of our choosing is either not necessary or the wrong thing to do. It seems we have been convinced that to resist a problem means perpetuating it, and that external censorship is okay as we will simply evolve spiritually in order to circumvent it.

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A painted stone at Wenzhou’s “Anti-cult Theme Park” tells visitors to “Worship science”

The reality, though, is that it takes sustained effort in order to evolve spiritually, and if we do not have access to the tools and techniques required for internal transformation, there is no way we will evolve spiritually as a matter of course.

If we don’t stand up for our rights and for spirituality now, is there the possibility that we could lose the opportunity completely?

A closer look at the state regulation of spirituality in China, and the links and parallels to policies in Western countries,  paints a sobering picture of how things could end up if we take our spiritual freedom in the West for granted.

When State-sanctioned religion is the only type allowed

Living in the West it can be hard to imagine that people are routinely incarcerated, tortured and even murdered for their spiritual beliefs, and yet this is happening all around the world right now. In some countries religion is oppressed completely in favour of an atheistic state, and in others a State religion is propagated while other beliefs are persecuted.

One country with strong limitations on spiritual expression is China, whose government see spiritual minorities with the ability to mobilise their devotees in direct action (most recently in peaceful protests) as a threat to state control. This fear may stem from a history of “religious and spiritual uprisings that had catastrophic effects on the country.” Source

Often initially supported by the regime, groups which come to be seen as threatening are persecuted and regulated through law enforcement, media propaganda and a network of anti-cult associations.

There are over 1.3 billion people in China but only five religions approved by the Chinese government:

  • Buddhism
  • Taoism
  • Islam
  • Catholicism
  • Protestantism

However religious experience is not free from bias – all forms of religion are expected to be “patriotic government associations”.

In Tibetan Buddhism the Panchen Lama (second highest ranking Buddhist next to the Dalai Lama) was taken into “protective custody” by the Chinese Government at age six when he was named, and replaced by a Chinese-endorsed Panchen Lama.

For Chinese Christians there are two options: attend a government-approved church, where clergymen are trained in state-sponsored seminaries, or attend illegal underground churches which are often subject to crackdowns and persecution.

Those who find themselves the subject of persecution, may not find much support from their countrymen. Recently when a Chinese blogger took to social media about his Christian pastor friend being repeatedly arrested he found that many people supported the persecution, with one commenter even remarking, “The cops have done a beautiful job!”.

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The Chinese government employs an army of internet trolls to propagate and defend the party line Source

Whether this sentiment is genuine or not is hard to tell. The Chinese government employs millions of professional trolls to back government propaganda known as the 50 cent brigade (because they are paid 50 Chinese cents for each comment made on youtube, forums and blogs around the world that distorts or deflects opinion towards government propaganda).

The mainstream media in China is also a tool of governmental control and oppression of religious minorities.

Recently when a 28-year-old woman was tragically beaten to death in a McDonald’s restaurant, state TV blamed the act on members of an “evil cult”.

A few days later the government published its list of 20 active “cults.” From then on, events unfolded with a ruthless and familiar logic: Every TV channel and newspaper issued warnings about the dangers of “evil cults.” Community organizations, village authorities and schools got in on the act.The anti-cult campaign extended to more mainstream religious practices. The People’s Daily website and the Global Times, a government newspaper, opened a barrage of attacks on China’s underground Christian churches. An article in the Global Times said “underground churches and evil cults are spreading like mushrooms … the problem is very urgent.” source

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The destruction of Sanjiang church in Wenzhou Source

What does a crackdown on underground churches look like? In Wenzhou – known colloquially as the “Jerusalem of the East” for its concentration of churches – religious buildings are being destroyed supposedly because they exceed building standards. But practitioners feel this is a smokescreen for religious oppression, pointing as an example to the world trade tower in the same city that exceeds standards by 29,000 square metres but was able to retroactively be approved.

Other Christians are fearful of speaking openly about this:

“You must be careful whom you talk to,” cautioned two women from a Beijing-based religious publication in town to investigate the demolition. “There could be government spies among the people here.” source

Incidentally it appears that the use of spies by anti-cult establishments in the western world is also a regular occurrence.

China’s anti-cult movement

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A section of a mural from Wenzhou’s “Anti-cult Theme Park” depicting why and how so-called “cults” should be resisted – with deadly force? Source

Wenzhou is also the home of China’s first “Anti-cult Theme Park” (franchises coming soon to a city near you?).

Don’t expect rides and fairy floss – this a place of “exercise and indoctrination”, complete with a sign telling visitors to “worship science” and quotes such as “Cults are religious poison, they are the pollution of human society.” There is also a hand-painted mural explaining why “cults” should be resisted and how to go about it.

But state indoctrination does not stop there. In fact the Chinese government even has it’s own anti-cult office, the “Office of the State Council to Prevent and Handle Cult Issues”. The purpose of this office is a mystery to many, although they influence policy and strategy in both state and party spheres and are “believed to be in charge of developing targeted strategies for the party and government on preventing and dealing with incidents stemming from cult activities, including controlling education and issuing propaganda aimed at deterring and “reforming” [spiritual] enthusiasts”. source

There are also a myriad of anti-cult associations smattered throughout all levels of Chinese society. And it seems they’ve been hard at work.

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Anti-cult themed Opera in Huagu Source

Take for instance this Anti-cult themed Opera in Huagu found on a Chinese tourist website and organised by the Hunan Anti-Cult Association. The write-up says:

Cults are like poisonous weeds do harm to the society. It blows one’s money, and worse, ruins families. In order to raise people’s awareness and enrich their spiritual life as well, modern Huagu Opera Awakening organized by Hunan Anti-Cult Association was staged in Taoyuan County Theatre on Sept.17thwhich received high appreciation.The opera reveals the danger of cults through a typical case, assembling moving plots and skillful actors, and overall it represents local culture, meanwhile shows a strong impact of alarming people against cults. [emphasis added]

An exhibition marking the banning of Falun Gong titled “Oppose Evil Cults, Uphold Culture”, was visited by over 200,000 people in 10 days. The exhibition detailed gruesome images of Falun Gong practitioners and comparison of Falun Gong to Nazi Germany and carried a simple message: “Healthy, intelligent people who begin practicing Falun Gong go crazy and hurt themselves and their families.” Source

Visitors to the exhibit had the following to say:

“A very convincing and effective anti-cult show.” — Han Juyin from Chongqing.”I will bring the materials back home to enrich the contents of the anti-cult bulletin on our campus.” — Visitor Zhu Xiaoping from the No. 5 Middle School in Xiangfan, Hubei Province.”Falun Gong is not only the enemy of the Chinese people, but also a common enemy of those who love world peace and respect knowledge and science. It deserves vigilance and lashes from all righteous people,” wrote visitor Qiao Chunhong. Source

But a New York-based spokeswoman for Falun Gong said, “It’s all lies. It’s all propaganda. The reality is that this (Chinese government) is a totalitarian regime relentlessly persecuting millions of its own people.”

This point of view appears to be backed up by the initial response to the banning of Falun Gong, when the Chinese government began to see their growing number of practitioners as a threat to state control:

Falun Gong was outlawed as a threat to public safety. Tens of thousands of members were arrested and sent to labour camps without trial, and many were tortured. The Department of Propaganda launched an immediate media assault on Falun Gong. In the first month after the ban The People’s Daily ran over ten articles a day denouncing Falun Gong, and several TV stations ran marathons of special features 24 hours a day for days on end (Kutulowski, 2004; Yu, 2004). Newspapers, magazines and broadcasting stations published lurid stories of members dying from suicide, and cutting open their stomach to find their inner falun. The blood and guts footage was especially compelling because criminal acts and suicides are usually underreported in China. Source

But in the Western World, we live in a free society… right?

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Is this the general consensus towards alternative spirituality? Source

If you think that such a mentality toward spirituality would never make its way into the “free” western world it might be worth thinking again.

In the West, it is not uncommon for commercial web filters to target and block “alternative spirituality”, and even filter this material in the same “adult” category as subjects like drugs, gambling, weapons and pornography. Web filters are widely used in public schools and libraries in the USA where alternative beliefs are often blocked in a discriminatory way, while only a narrow list of religious beliefs can be accessed. In Australia, the Queensland State Government currently blocks Alternative Spirituality/Belief throughout its public schools using the Blue Coat web filter.

In the UK, web filters used on mobile phone networks and public WiFi providers have been found to block alternative beliefs.  Disturbingly, when David Cameron proposed placing network-level web filters on fixed-line ISPs in the UK to “protect the children” he praised TalkTalk which was using a filtering system controlled by Huawei, a company with close ties to the Chinese government, whose own web filtering system blocks among other things“superstitious” material and anything related to Falun Gong.

At an “anti-cult” conference in Australia a senator who has used parliamentary privilege to attack a new religious movement also spoke of his plans to raise the idea of “incorporating cult education into the new national curriculum“.

The Chinese Government itself uses examples from the Western anti-cult movement to support their own campaigns of spiritual oppression, and have hosted prominent Western anti-cult campaigners in China to speak in support of their cause.

Will enough people stand up for spirituality before it’s too late?

While Western governments are obviously not persecuting spiritual minorities to the same extent as governments like China, there are disturbing signs that we could be heading in that direction.

The question is, will enough people stand up for spirituality before it’s too late? Or through apathy will we risk a future similar to those experienced by spiritual seekers and aspirants in countries where spiritual freedom is heavily restricted?

About the Author

David has a deep interest in spiritual development, but has discovered there are many forces in the world working to keep people asleep. His recent interest has been researching the psychological tactics and techniques used to limit people’s spiritual potential, writing about his discoveries here at The Conscious Reporter. twitter.com/wakeupbefreenow

**Please visit ConsciousReporter.com where this article was originally published.**

Why We Have a Need to Know About the Esoteric

“You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.”

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Esoteric knowledge has played a fundamental role in many civilizations throughout history, including our own, and yet the UK is looking to censor “esoteric material” across the internet by the end of this year. This is not being spoken about openly, and is likely to set a precedent for other proposed internet filters around the world, as the UK’s filter appears to have already been influenced by the French company Orange’s filtering of “esoteric practices” and “universally acknowledged sects” in the UK.

It may not be immediately apparent to most people as to what the implications of this are, and it seems at some level there is an attempt to take advantage of the lack of understanding of what the word “esoteric” actually means.

To many people, “esoteric” denotes something obscure, incoherent and belonging to the old libraries of mystical texts, and even as something negative to be feared. But in reality it is literally all around us and absolutely crucial to the understanding of our collective human history and experience. This is the reason why its censorship is so dangerous and should be ringing alarm bells for everybody.

Esoteric is simply a word that denotes something “hidden” and understandable to an enlightened few. Fundamentally, it describes the hidden nature of reality, and anyone who experiences it. Many believe that the physical world of matter is all there is, but although other realms and dimensions, consciousness, non-physical beings etc., are not ordinarily visible, they are widely reported by people who have near-death experiences, and likewise by those who have mystical experiences. The expression of the experience of these “esoteric” realms can literally be found almost everywhere, in religious texts, ancient cultures, traditions, and mythology; it has run through most societies just as it runs throughout ours today.

Anyone who gains experience through remote viewing, telepathy, altered states of consciousness, prayer, visions, dreams, religious or mystical experiences, psychic and paranormal phenomena, self-knowledge, or who has a supernatural encounter of any kind, etc., whether for good or bad purposes (because it’s possible to do both), is accessing normally hidden, or esoteric information about life and reality.

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(The occultist, astrologer, and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee, performing an experiment before her.)

This kind of esoteric knowledge can be found throughout religions—each containing a host of supernatural encounters and events etc. It can be found in yoga, meditation, the whole of the New Age, and even in the symbols of crop circles. Esotericism is not particular to any belief or tradition, but has existed in almost all of them. This is why so many similarities can be found between diverse spiritual texts and teachings, although separated by vast distances and time; esoteric practitioners all over the world and throughout history have, using a myriad of different techniques, discovered similar or the same information about the hidden nature of reality and expressed it according to their own unique environment and culture.

Esoteric symbols proliferate movies, music, and the entire entertainment industry. They are found in the institutions of society, such as governments, corporations, law and royalty, and have overtly done so throughout the world since recorded history from ancient Sumer and Egypt, through the Roman Empire, right up into the United States today.

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(The Druid god “the Green Man” at the 2012 Paralympics closing ceremony)

The UK itself has a vast history of esoteric knowledge, stretching from at least the times of the ancient Neolithic and Beaker peoples who built some of its ancient megalithic sites, through the Druids, the legends of King Arthur, up unto the proliferation of diverse religious, spiritual and esoteric groups throughout the UK today. Queen Elizabeth I had an occultist and astrologer, the famous John Dee, serve as her consultant. Esotericism is even taught as a subject at universities in Amsterdam and Exeter in the UK. The 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies were teeming with esoteric symbols – the central setting of the London opening ceremony was the ancient esoteric site of Glastonbury Tor, and the organizers of the Paralympic ceremony actually contacted the British Druid Order to get permission to use some of their ceremonial wording.

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(Portrait of the first president of the United States republic, George Washington, doing the Freemason “hidden hand” sign, in this painting from a year that changed the course of world history – 1776.)

Esoteric societies are part of the history of the formation of much of the western world. President Roosevelt regarded the library founded by the great esoteric writer Manly P. Hall in Los Angeles, which housed a collection of ancient spiritual writings, a national treasure and had its contents copied (microfiched) during WWII to safeguard them. The United States republic was created in part out of secret societies, most notably Freemasonry; George Washington was a Freemason as were a number of the “Founding Fathers”. The Statue of Liberty bears an uncanny resemblance to the ancient goddess Hecate, and was created by a French Freemason. The US capital Washington DC is awash with esoteric symbols, as is the US dollar bill; today dark esoteric groups continue to control structures of power behind the scenes in order to exert their influence over the entire world.

The mainstream media has marginalized, demonized and effectively conducted a witch-hunt against people gathering to practice alternative spirituality and experience higher/mystical states of consciousness, whilst at the same time celebrating its use for dark purposes. Today the most popular music videos and live performances contain genuinely demonic esoteric symbols and rituals—with inverted crucifixes, mock sacrifices, satanic worship etc.

To those who don’t have experience of the hidden nature of reality, the esoteric symbols of ancient sacred teachings can appear obscure, nonsensical, even primitive, and are commonly misinterpreted and derided. In fact, the notion that anything but physical reality even exists is scoffed at by some. Yet those who have a shared experience of these hidden realities can understand them, and as the numbers of people who experience extra-sensory realities is rarely high, the word esoteric has come to describe a knowledge that is limited to a small few—but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The fact that knowledge of the esoteric aspects of our history have been stripped out of the school curriculum, the mainstream media, and now potentially out of the internet, is testament enough that those controlling society’s most powerful institutions, do not want people to know about it, and they have demonstrated a preference for engrossing the majority in rampant materialism based on the gratification of all things physical and sensory. And I might add, to subject them to malevolent esoteric symbols whilst blocking them from understanding what they are being subjected to.

The knowledge of hidden realities has been used against populations for sinister purposes throughout history—for domination, control, and deception. But it has also throughout history been used for good, to help raise people’s level of consciousness, to bring higher values into society, to empower people to control their own destiny, and alleviate suffering—it all depends on the hands it’s in. Therefore, it should not be taken out of the hands of the people, or those who would use it for good, and kept only for those in power who would prefer to keep the discussion of it censored.

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(Some of the most powerful and influential people in the world taking part in an esoteric ceremony at Bohemian Grove in California)

Knowledge about the nature of existence, the purpose of life, alternative ways of understanding the universe and even knowledge of our own history, should not be censored, nor should our right to examine the use of esoteric knowledge by those in positions of authority, such as the secret societies of Bohemian Grove and Skull and Bones, which have been attended by numerous US presidents and many of the most powerful and influential people in the world. All human beings should be free to explore esoteric realms and likewise be free to express their findings and share them without restriction. This is crucial for the collective development of human consciousness, our creative potential, and our ability to work together to address the greatest questions and mysteries of life.

About the Author

Angela Pritchard is an author and researcher into the universal nature of spirituality and consciousness. She is the co-author of two books on ancient sacred mysteries. Her primary focus is on experiencing spirituality firsthand, including through OBEs, and she has been dedicated to this for the past 10 years. She aims to uncover the hidden roots of what’s really driving the agenda in society and the world in relation to the war on consciousness and awakening, and writes alongside her husband on the website http://belsebuub.com/.

“The more humanity strays from its’ origin, the more we deny our bond with nature, the farther from perfection we become. We are the only creatures on the planet that use symbols in reference to something else. This documentary shows that we use symbols for absolutely everything the mind can conceive of. There is at least one word or icon or gesture to insinuate everything our five senses can detect and then some. But along with this beautiful gift comes a flaw.

Most people are unwilling to seek and create their own interpretations of these symbols. Instead, they blindly submit to preconceived definitions and connotations given by sources unknown. Because of this, many things have been predetermined in our understanding of life without our knowledge. Words can be perverted and used to manipulate rather than to inform. Symbols can be used to segregate rather than unite. And those given the responsibility and authority to disseminate information to the public possess the ability to do with it as they choose.” Ben Stewart

There is an Esoteric Agenda behind every facet of life that was once believed to be disconnected. There is an Elite faction guiding most every Political, Economic, Social, Corporate, some Non-Governmental or even Anti-Establishment Organizations. This film uses the hard work and research of professionals in every field helping to expose this agenda and put the future of this planet back into the hands of the people.

Passion of Sophia – Gnostic Creation

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In the two slightly different tellings of the Gnostic creation story we have at the center our Divine Mother Sophia. Before we get to the shortened Passion of Sophia we really need to know a little more about Gnosticism, starting with Sant Mat.

The term Sant Mat literally translates as the Path of the God-Realized. A Sant is defined as an individual that has attained to the highest spiritual potential to which any human can aspire – complete self-knowledge and God-realization. This spiritually transfigured being, is commissioned by his own Sat Guru, as the literal embodiment of the Sat Purusha, the True God, sitting in all humility amongst humanity. His way, according to Sant Mat, is that of love, forgiveness and compassion. He teaches the necessity of individual spiritual awakening through certain methods of meditation practice. He also teaches the cultivation of ethical virtues including strict vegetarianism as an essential aspect of ahimsa, the virtue of non-violence.

One of the cardinal functions of a Sat Guru is to absolve through his own grace, sympathy and suffering, the accumulated karma of the spiritual aspirant, referring to the cycle of action and reaction that keeps the soul bound in creation, and is the motor force of the wheel of birth and death, the cycle of reincarnation. Without this forgiveness of the karmas of the past, there can be no liberation, for the soul remains ever bound in the karmic wheel. Therefore the guru, as the Word-made-flesh, the embodiment of Spirit incarnate in human form, plays a critical and central role in Sant Mat, and is regarded as an absolute prerequisite on the path of spiritual liberation.

The spiritual practices taught by the Sant: meditation on the inner spiritual Light and Divine Music. The spiritual practice is based on the belief that creation emerges as a state of vibration having two aspects: Light and Sound, termed the God-Into-Expression power, as its true nature is consciousness itself. The spiritual aspirant is guided into contact with the lowest links of these spiritual principles, as they represent the fundamental and formless nature of spirit and regarded as a direct contact with spirit. The first method involves meditation on the Ajna Chakra or third eye, while repeating a mantra consisting of five names, given by the Spiritual Master. These five names relate to the five major divisions of creation and are imbued with the spiritual power of the Sant who has attained each of these stages. They are also said to confer protection on the inner spiritual planes. Meditation at this center, leads to the awakening of inner vision and revelations of light.

The second spiritual practice is meditation on the inner spiritual sound. This practice does not involve any mantra, but attunement within to inner harmonics that first are heard on the right side, then gradually seems to come from above, changing character at each stage and having the quality of dramatic musical tones.

The practice of meditation on the Light and Sound principle as the fundamental worship of spirit, can be traced through various schools of Sufism, through the ancient Upanishads of India, through the practices and references of the Pythagorans and in the Egyptian Book of the Dead itself. It can also be found in the writings of the Gnostics: “I cast a Sound into the ears of those who know me. And I am inviting you into the exalted perfect Light.” – Trimorphic Protennoia

The Sant’s teach that their path has been maintained in its pristine form, unchanged and unchanging in its spiritual principles and practices, and as ancient as humanity. However, its outer expression and terminology has taken different forms according to the circumstance of the time. Kirpal Singh quoting Hazur Baba Sawan Singh in his biography of Hazur: “True Saints are not fastened to any religious sect or dress. They are free personalities. They are neither a party to one nor a foe to the other.”

In other words, in the mind of the Sants, they regard the spiritual teaching as universal, not a distinct sect or cult, but a basic spiritual dharma or truth teaching that is for all humanity regardless of their cultural/religious background. Therefore, they are not tied to any place, time or religious identity but adapt to the environment of the time.

Gnosis is a term synonymous with the Sanskrit term Gnana, and distinguishes direct spiritual realization from belief based on faith alone. As the Christian church grew and attempted to standardize, socialize and politicize its beliefs and doctrines, these mystic schools of Christian thought were increasingly viewed as heretical. Over several centuries, the church gained political power, suppressed the Gnostics and systematically destroyed their works. It was only in the latter part of the nineteenth century that original Gnostic writings came to light. In the early nineteen forties the remains of an entire library of Gnostic literature was found buried near the village of Nag Hammadi in Egypt.

The esoteric spirituality of the Gnostics existed within the setting of a great cosmic drama in which humanity is held captive by a creator God who functions through the rule of law (karma), and seduces man into his false worship. Yahweh is one of the many names of this false God. The True God on the other hand is a transcendent and Unknowable Absolute whose realm is the true place of spiritual liberation and whose nature is truth, love and forgiveness.

As with most of the great myths and “fairy tales” of the old world, story and allegory are meant to speak to the innermost recesses of the heart, mind and spirit. These are esoteric tales regarded as a symbolic/mythic rendering of the actual process and structure of creation. Some of the chief characters such as Sat Purush (The True Form of God/Gnostic: The Only-Begotten) and the opposing force, the energy that gives rise to materiality and rules the realms of karma, known as Kal (Dharam Rai, the Negative Power/Gnostic: Ialdabaoth, the Demiurge, etc.) are a very real presence in the discourses of the Gurus of Sant Mat.

Formless God and the Eternal Realm of God’s Attributes The Eternally Unmanifested Absolute takes form as the Timeless,
Changeless and Perfect Realm, known as Sach Khand (the True Realm) in Sant Mat or the Pleroma (fullness) of the Gnostics. Its inhabitants are the Perfect, Eternal and Distinct Elements of the Divine Totality. According to the teaching of Sant Mat in all ages, it is not given to the hypostasized elements of the Absolute to have the experience of the Wholeness from which their distinction takes its value.

”Only human beings, of all creation, can realize God within their lifetime. In the mystery of humanity is the opportunity for reconciliation between the parts and the whole and in this is hidden the very purpose of creation. It has been said that if even the angels wish to realize God, they too must take on human form, through which the potential for Godconsciousness may be fulfilled.” – Kirpal Singh

“In one there is always the delusion of many, and the totality does signify the existence therein of so many parts. The idea of a part and of the whole go cheek by jowl, and both the part as well as the whole are characterized by the similarity of the essential nature in them. The essence of a thing has its own attributive nature and the two cannot be separated from each other. Just as the essence is both one and many, so is the case with its attributive nature.” – Kirpal Singh

The Gnostic term, Pleroma and the eastern term, Sach Khand, are used interchangeably. These cosmic attributes are known as the Sons of Sat Purush in the East and the Aeons in Gnosticism. Sat Purush or the Only-Begotten is the Aeon that is the Being or the Mind, of the Absolute: pure consciousness and consciousness on all planes, thus also the bridge to creation proper.

“The Only-Begotten Mind alone, having issued from him directly, can know the Fore-Father: to all the other Aeons he remains invisible and incomprehensible.” – Hans Jonas

‘It was a great marvel that they were in the Father without knowing Him.’ – Gospel of Truth 22.27

Creation, Version One:
The myths now run in distinct and precisely opposite directions, at least in the Gnostic forms. The Kabiran version and one of the Gnostic versions states that there was an Aeon that cherished a desire for its own creation as an inherent part of its nature. We could say that the potential for separation from God is itself an Aeon. This leads ultimately to a creation existing in negative polarity with eternal Sach Khand, spinning the universes that exist in Time.

This separative Aeon, known as Mind or Time (Kal), is Sat Purusha’s first expansion in the Gnostic version and fifth in the Kabiran version. Kabir’s Anurag Sagar states that “He is created from the most glorious part of the body of Sat Purush”. Thus Sat Purush is cosmically linked to the “lower” creation, which eventually develops through Kal’s activity. In this we are warned away from value judgements of good/evil, and reminded that this entire process is under Divine Will (Hukam).

This Aeon was female: “Rushing up to the depth of the Father, she perceives that whereas all the begotten Aeons generate by copulation, the Father alone generates out of himself (being in this version without consort); in this she wants to emulate him and also generate out of herself without spouse, so that she may not fall short of the Father’s achievement. She failed to perceive that this is the power solely of the Unbegotten One, and so she managed only to bring forth a formless entity.”

Creation, Version Two:
In the second Gnostic version, the motivation is exactly the opposite; rather than a desire for separation, there is a longing for union. Structurally the tale is very similar in many respects. Here the longing of the Aeon, Sophia, to know the Absolute completely, is the primary force that sets in motion the process that eventually leads to
the development of the lower creation.

So it was that: “The Aeons longed only secretly to behold the begetter of their seed and to search for the root without beginning.” This longing is “the beginning of a crisis in the Pleroma”…since the Aeons “cannot forgo the aspiration to know more than their limits permit and thus to abolish the distance separating them from the Absolute. The last and youngest (and therefore outermost of the Aeons), the Sophia, leapt farthest forward and fell into a passion apart from the embrace of her consort. That passion had originated and spread from the vicinity of the Mind and Truth but now infected
the Sophia and broke out in her so that she went out of her mind, pretendedly from love, actually from folly or presumption, since she had no such community with the Father as the Only-Begotten Mind…The passion was a search for the Father, for she strove to comprehend his greatness. This, however, she failed to achieve, because what she attempted was impossible, and so she found herself in great agony; on account of the depth of the Abyss, into which in her desire she penetrated more and more, she would in the end have been swallowed up by its sweetness and dissolved in the
general being, had she not come up against the power that consolidates the All and keeps it off the ineffable Greatness. This power is called Limit: by him she was consolidated, brought back to herself, and convinced that the Father is incomprehensible. Thus she abandoned her previous intention and the passion engendered by it. These, however, now subsist by themselves as a ‘formless entity.'”

Sophia’s return to harmony in the Pleroma is, as noted by Jonas, “..the first restoration and salvation in the spiritual history of total being, and it occurs entirely inside the Pleroma, though as we shall see it is the cause of a chain of events outside it.”

The image of what has taken place in the Pleroma itself, indicates that the Aeon’s longing, which will ‘later’ lead to the lower creation, is eternally latent, eternally activated, and eternally reconciled. This certainly casts the mold for the triune attributes of creation described by Hinduism, that is, the triple Godhead and the three gunas. However, Kabir and Soami Ji assert that Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, satogun, rajogun, and tamogun come much later, far outside Sach Khand. In the meantime, ‘the formless entity’ created by Sophia’s passion, as we shall see, becomes the basis of all subsequent creation outside the Pleroma.

Creation Born of Sophia’s Passion
Once the “integrity of the Pleroma” had been restored and Sophia rejoined to her consort, she contemplated on her fate and the ‘formless entity’ to which her passion has given birth. This gives rise to various emotions, which also become embodied in the formless. The emotions evoked vary according to different Gnostic authors, but include grief, fear, bewilderment, shock, and repentance. A lesser Aeon is thus created out of the admixture of the Sophia’s longing for union, as well as her emotions in the wake of her failure.

The residue of this disturbance in the Pleroma “has become hypostatized as a positive realm by itself. Only at this price could the Pleroma be rid of it.” Thus the Limit (‘which separates the Aeons from the unbegotten Father” above and the ‘formless entity’, soon to be below – NT.) was not planned in the original constitution of the Fullness, i.e., of the free and adequate self-expression of the godhead, but was necessitated by the crisis as a principle of consolidation and protective separation.”

As ignorance and formlessness had appeared within the Pleroma, deep perturbation remained among the Aeons, who no longer felt safe, fearing like happenings to themselves.” A collective prayer to the Father invokes a new pair of Aeons whose purpose is to restore true serenity to the Pleroma and take care of the residual formlessness. These are Christos and Holy Spirit. The Christos imparts to the Aeons knowledge of their relationship to the Father that leads them to perfect repose. “As a fruit of their new unity, they all together, each contributing the best of his essence, produce an additional (and unpaired) Aeon, Jesus, in whom the Fullness is, as it were, gathered together and the regained unity of the Aeons symbolized. This ‘perfect fruit of the Pleroma,’ who contains all its elements, has later, as Savior, to carry in his person the Fullness out into the Void, in which the residue of the past disturbance, meanwhile
“formed” by Christos, still awaits salvation.”

The new Aeon, the Desire of the Sophia, is now separated as an entity unto itself, is called the Achamoth or the lower Sophia. Together with the Passions she is cast “outside” the Pleroma. Energized by the Christos reaching out from the Pleroma, she is left “with the awakened awareness of her separation from the Pleroma and the aroused longing for it. This initiates a redemptional task whose accomplishment requires a long detour of suffering and successive divine interventions.” In other words lower creation now becomes an inevitable development, yet paradoxically essential for
the higher purpose of reconciliation.

“The deserted Sophia impetuously sets out to seek after the vanished light, but cannot reach it, for the Limit obstructs her forward rush. She cannot penetrate through him, because of her admixture of the original Passion, and forced to remain alone in the outer darkness she falls prey to every kind of suffering that exists. In this she repeats on her own level the scale of emotions which her mother in the Pleroma underwent, the only difference being that these passions now pass over into the form of definitive states of being, and as such they can become the substance of the world… grief, because she could not get hold of the light; fear, lest besides the light also life might leave her; bewilderment, added to these; and all of them united in the basic quality of ignorance (itself counted as an ‘affection’). And still another state of mind ensued: the turning (conversion) toward the Giver of Life.”

The essential ignorance of the Demiurge, which leads him to declare himself to be the “unique and highest God”. “Ialdabaoth was boastful and arrogant, and exclaimed: ‘I am Father and God, and beyond me is none other.’” However, the processes he sets in motion, believing them to be his own, are in fact, fashioned by his mother. In this it is again suggested that no matter how ‘fallen’ creation ultimately becomes, the entire process is an expression of Divine Will.

The polarity between an ignorant creator God, well removed from even his Mother, and a far distant Eternity of Consciousness, i.e., the True God, is at the center of Gnostic and Sant Mat theology. Soami Ji repeatedly asserts, as did the Gnostics, that the God of the various world religions is none other then Kal or the Demiurge. Therefore, his worship is false and leads to ever-greater enmeshment rather than true liberation.

The Achamoth, the lower Sophia, leads the Demiurge into the knowledge of what is above him; “however, he keeps to himself the great mystery of the Father and the Aeons into which the Sophia has initiated him and divulges it to none of his prophets.” Imparting knowledge of the Father to the lower creation itself is left to “the incarnation of the Aeons Jesus and Christos from the Pleroma in the person of the historical Jesus.” This, at least, is an interpretation of
the Valentinian perspective, that being the Christian Gnostic tradition from which this story is derived. However, the extension of this concept in other Gnostic circles and so essential to Sant Mat, is that the incarnation in the world of “the common fruit” of the Pleroma, to bring salvation to the lower creation, is a perpetual manifestation,
somehow essential to the structure of the world. This is none other then the Living Master, the Grace bearing manifestation of Sat Purush. In this conception, the Godman, or Word-Made-Flesh, is ever present in the world, not a periodic incarnation as with Vishnu, or one that appears once in history and then again at the end of time, returning as judge and savior, as in the Christian conception.

Unwittingly, the Demiurge, (also known as Ialdabaoth), is led to the creation of godlike, yet innocent primal humanity, but leaves them in ignorance of their true origin and potential. His mother, the lower Sophia, however, working through the snake of wisdom, imparts Adam with gnosis, the spiritual knowledge of his true station. Seeing this awakened state, the jealous and angry Demiurge casts humankind farther into matter, where human nature recapitulates the passions and longing of its high progenitors. This, of course, is the tale of Adam and Eve turned on its head. The first children are
banished, not by God, but their apparent creator, who is, in fact, an impostor.

Despite the jealous machinations of the Demiurge it is the destiny of humanity to be the receptacle of the highest mysteries.

“…Listen to me, the Sound of the Mother of your mercy, for you have become worthy of the mystery hidden from the Aeons..” – Trimorphic Protennoia Nag Hammadi Library p.467

“Behold, Zostrianos, you have heard all these things of which the gods are ignorant..” – Zostrianos Nag Hammadi Library p.392

According to the Gnostics, the hope for salvation from the bondage of Time proceeds from the original passion for mergence in the Absolute God of the primal Sophia, which necessitated creation in the first place.

“Since Oblivion (the lower world) came into existence because they (the Aeons) did not know the Father, therefore if they attain to a knowledge of the Father, Oblivion becomes at that very instant nonexistent”

“Thus the world, unbeknown to its immediate author, is for the sake of salvation, not salvation for the sake of what happened within creation and to creation.” – Gospel of Truth 18. 7-14

In Gnostic theology there is no primal act, such as Eve’s so-called sin against God’s commandment, for which, all of humanity collectively partakes in guilt and for which salvation exists as a path to restoration, according to Christian doctrine. Indeed, true Gnosis is not the reconciliation of God and his rebellious creation, but in the poignant metaphor of the Gnostics, the vicarious fulfillment of the longing of the eternal Children of God, the Aeons, to merge in the Absolute. In this noble vision, though creation is a bridge extending from the fully illuminated realms to the dark, density of matter, this long journey out into Time and Mind generates a path of return transcending all attributes and merging in the undifferentiated Source.

“In Your Absence,
where is the once blooming
and ecstatic state of my heart?
I’m afraid lest the secret of our love
may be disclosed now.
Otherwise, who knew this hidden tale besides You.” – Sant Kirpal Singh

Source used: Dr. Neil Tessler’s book Sant Mat and the Gnostic Myth of Creation
If this resonates with you I recommend the Gnostic book Pistis Sophia (http://gnosis.org/library/psoph.htm)

Exoteric – Esoteric

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Religion exists at two Levels – the Exoteric and the Esoteric. To put it bluntly, the exoteric level is meant for the profane. The exoteric literal level of religious philosophy is pure idiocy. To think that the fantastic Tales of demons and multi-headed monsters and miraculous events of every stripe, such as making the sun stand still, dividing the Red Sea, destroying the world by flood and all the other related nonsense is accepted without hesitation, on the basis of Faith, is astonishing. Nevertheless, it is so.

The Esoteric Level of religion is a Science that is mathematical, coherent, logical and provable. But this science of Truth is veiled by the masque of mythology. Some are repulsed by this mask and unfortunately turn away and denounce all concepts that support the possible existence of a Creator God Force. The great majority accepts the myth at face value – believe it or not. But fortunately, there are some that choose the path of Investigation, of which you and I are a part.

Rescuing the Bible from Literalism

As you can probably tell, saving Christianity and Christ Consciousness from religion is very important to me. Sometimes it feels like it was my mission before being born. Maybe I was burned as a heretic in a past life…

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By RICHARD SMOLEY

“The world,” wrote the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, “is the totality of facts, not of things.” So it is, but facts take many forms. The hard-edged events of ordinary reality are only one form, and not always the most important.

This insight can be hard to accept in the positivist world of mainstream Western thought. In these terms, either an event took place or it did not. Truth and falsehood are judged by this criterion alone. And yet such a stance has only a limited value. It is indispensable in history and journalism and perhaps in science (although the anomalous discoveries of twentieth-century physics have blurred the picture somewhat). But in the spiritual dimension, even though there are facts here as well, they are not of this kind. To overlook this truth is to mistake one reality for another.

Conventional Christianity has often made this mistake. Practically from the start, it has presented its case in literalistic terms: the Bible is true; moreover it is literally true. Its facts must be historical facts, and its record of the past must be a true one. At first these claims fostered Christianity’s rapid success in the ancient world. By the early centuries of the Common Era, Greco-Roman civilisation could no longer take its own myths seriously, so it was persuaded to adopt the Scriptures of the Jews and Christians on the grounds that these presented not only sacred truths but an accurate record of the past.

Since the Enlightenment, such claims have been more of an embarrassment than an advertisement for the faith. Over the last 250 years, scholars in many fields have taken Christianity at its word and investigated in great depth just how much the Bible jibes with science and history. The findings have not exactly vindicated the Good Book. Indeed the trend over time has been to call more and more of the Bible into question as a historical record.

From a scientific point of view, the tide began to turn in the early nineteenth century. In 1830–32, the British scientist Charles Lyell published his classic Principles of Geology, arguing that geological changes that are recorded in rocks could not possibly have taken place in the mere 6,000 years that Genesis assigned to the earth’s lifetime, but had occurred over a much longer period. A generation later, another, even more famous scientist, Charles Darwin, suggested that animal species had not been created by the Almighty on a single day of creation in 4004 BCE, but had evolved over much longer periods by what he called “natural selection.” (In fact, when Darwin had finished his magnum opus, The Origin of Species, he sent it to Lyell for comments.)

Historicity of the Bible Questioned

In recent decades, archaeology has cast doubt even on parts of the Bible that had seemed more or less factual, such as the history of Israel in the Old Testament. To take one example, a generation ago most scholars accepted the historicity of the Exodus from Egypt, believing at least that some migration of this kind happened, even if the narrative had to be stripped of its miraculous festoonings. Since then, the picture has changed considerably. Summarising recent findings in their 2001 book The Bible Unearthed, Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman contend that the Exodus did not happen in any form that is recognisable from the archaeological record. The first mention of Israel in any known inscription, they note, dates from the reign of the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah in 1207 BCE. While this is around the time traditionally assigned to the Exodus, the inscription speaks not of a flight of Israelites (or even an expulsion), but of Merneptah’s successful incursion into Canaan, where Israel is reckoned among the peoples subdued. In any case, the Israelites could not have escaped to Canaan out of the hands of the Egyptians, because Canaan was part of Egyptian territory at the time; Merneptah’s invasion would have been to quiet a troublesome province.

Instead, Finkelstein and Silberman suggest that the biblical account of the Exodus is a composite of folk memories of the Hyksos – a Semitic people who ruled Egypt from c.1670 to c.1570 BCE before being expelled by the Egyptians. The Exodus story as we know it was framed in the seventh century BCE, when the national ideology of Jerusalem and the nation of Judah was beginning to crystallise – and Egypt was a powerful and aggressive neighbour.

Other scholars have come up with equally revolutionary insights. In her work The Great Angel, the British biblical scholar Margaret Barker points out that originally the Israelites worshipped a female goddess, known as Asherah (or sometimes as Hokhmah or “Wisdom”), as the consort of Yahweh, alongside El, the Most High God, and Yahweh himself, who was essentially a national deity allocated to Israel alone. Barker suggests that the famous Deuteronomic reform under the Judahite King Josiah – in which Josiah purges the Temple of these other gods and restores the worship of Yahweh alone (2 Kings 22-23) – was not a reform but an innovation, a purge of time-honoured traditions in an attempt to create a “Yahweh-alone movement.” This movement eventually took over Judaism after the Babylonian Exile and imposed its own agenda on the past.

One could make similar points about much of the rest of the Bible. The “quest of the historical Jesus,” as Albert Schweitzer so famously dubbed it, has gone on for over two centuries now without any really conclusive results. Most scholars are convinced that there is some admixture of myth and legend in the life of Christ as portrayed in the New Testament, but they differ enormously about just what was legend and what was not. The panel of liberal New Testament scholars known as the Jesus Seminar has won some notoriety for contending that Jesus neither said nor did most of the things attributed to him in the Gospels. As shocking as some may find this claim, it is hardly new: an array of German New Testament scholars reached much the same conclusions in the nineteenth century. A still more radical view holds that Jesus never existed at all: his story was merely a Jewish equivalent of the numerous death-and-resurrection myths circulating in the ancient world. Since there is no archaeological evidence for Christ’s life, and the textual evidence is elusive (none of the Gospels, canonical or apocryphal, even claims to be an eyewitness account), this position, as extreme as it is, is hard to definitively refute.

Biblical Stories as Allegory, Not History

What, then, are we to do with the Bible as history? Some will no doubt cling to it. The literary critic Harold Bloom has noted that in evangelical Christianity, the “limp leather Bible,” waved at the audience by the preacher, has itself become a totem. But others are unlikely to find refuge in a simplistic bibliolatry. They may be drawn to another approach – one that is equally ancient, and possibly more profound. It is that the Bible is not, and never was, meant to be taken literally, but has deeper meanings that are to be unearthed by those are capable of doing so.

This idea goes back to the very beginnings of Christianity and has always existed side by side with narrow literalism. Ironically, it was a major impetus for the creation of Christianity as a separate religion from Judaism. The nascent Christian movement often had to allegorise the Hebrew Scriptures to make use of them for its own purposes. The Apostle Paul writes about one biblical passage:

It is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all (Gal. 4:22–26).

Paul is saying that the real meaning of the story of Abraham and his two sons lies in the relationship of the Jews and the Christians. Ishmael, the older son, born to Hagar (or Agar), “the bondwoman,” is the Jews, who are in “bondage” to the Law of Moses. Isaac, the younger, born to Sarah, the “freewoman,” represents the Christians, who are freed from having to follow the Law. The story is an “allegory.”

The first authority to use the word “allegory” in this sense (the Greek is allegoria) – and the first to expound the Hebrew Bible in this way – was a philosopher who lived at the same time as both Jesus and Paul: Philo of Alexandria (c.20 BCE–c.50 CE). Although there is no reference to Jesus or Paul in his works or to Philo in the New Testament, it would be hard to overstate Philo’s influence on Christianity. To take one example, it was he who first used the Greek word logos (often translated as “word”) to mean the creative, structuring element in consciousness and to contend that this principle had engendered the world. Philo’s view was prevalent in the Judaism of the first century CE, in which the logos was often seen as a kind of deuteros theos or “second god.” The Christians appropriated this theology, especially in the Gospel of John, whose prologue “In the beginning was the Word” etc. is almost a programmatic statement of Philo’s thought. Philo, of course, never equated this logos with Jesus, as the Christians did, and once the Christian view had spread throughout the ancient world, the Jews dropped the concept of the logos entirely.

In any event, Philo viewed the Hebrew Bible through the lens of allegory. Here is Philo on Genesis:

“And on the sixth day God finished his work which he made.” It would be a sign of great simplicity to think that the world was created in six days, or indeed all in time…. But… it would be correctly said that the world was not created in time, but that time had its existence as a consequence of the world….. When, therefore, Moses says, “God completed his works on the sixth day,” we must understand that he is speaking not of a number of days, but that he takes six as a perfect number.

Philo goes on to explain what he means by a perfect number. Obviously this is a far richer and more sophisticated understanding of a sacred text than the simplistic idea that the world was made in six literal days.

The Christian theologian who is most indebted to Philo was the third-century Church Father Origen. Origen went further than Philo, however, in being much more eager to discard the literal truth of passages that seemed contrary to reason. Here is Origen on Genesis:

Who is so silly as to believe that God, after the manner of a farmer, “planted a paradise eastward in Eden,” and set in it a visible and palpable “tree of life,” of such a sort that anyone who tasted its fruit with his bodily teeth would gain life: and again that one could partake of “good and evil” by masticating the fruit taken from the tree of that name? And when God is said to “walk in the paradise in the cool of the day” and Adam to hide himself behind a tree, I do not think anyone will doubt that these are figurative expressions which indicate certain mysteries through a semblance of history and not through actual events.

Origen does not spare the Gospels or the writings of the Apostles, “for,” he writes, “the history even of these is not everywhere pure, events being woven together in the bodily sense without having actually happened; nor do the law and the commandments contained therein entirely declare what is reasonable.”

Such an attitude seems strikingly modern – and yet these are the words of a third-century Church Father. Origen spoke of three levels of meaning to Scripture (body, soul, and spirit, in accordance with the tripartite division of human nature accepted by early Christianity). This view would be tremendously influential. The scholar Beryl Smalley has written that “to write a history of Origenist influence on the West would be tantamount to writing a history of Western [biblical] exegesis.”

By the Middle Ages, Origen’s three levels of meaning for Scripture would be expanded to four. They were called the literal, allegorical, moral, and “anagogical” or mystical senses. Dante, writing in the early fourteenth century, refers to them in his Letter to Can Grande, where he says of the Exodus:

If we look at it from the letter alone it means to us the exit of the Children of Israel from Egypt at the time of Moses; if from allegory, it means for us our redemption done by Christ; if from the moral sense, it means to us the conversion of the soul from the struggle and misery of sin to the status of grace; if from the anagogical, it means the leavetaking of the blessed soul from the slavery of this corruption to the freedom of eternal glory. And though these mystical senses are called by various names, in general all can be called allegorical, because they are different from the literal or the historical.

Origen, who is evasive about actually setting out the hidden meaning of Scripture (“it was the method of the Holy Spirit rather to conceal these truths and to hide them deeply,” he writes), makes reference to Egypt as well. He speaks of “the descent of the holy fathers into Egypt, that is, into this world.” For Origen as for Dante, then, the Exodus ultimately presents an allegory of spiritual liberation.

Origen died around 253 CE, crippled by torture during the persecution of the Christians by the Roman Emperor Decius. Since then, Origen has had an ambiguous destiny in the mainstream church. Revered in his own day, in later centuries he fell into disrepute among the orthodox. This happened for a number of reasons, but it was largely because his views on the relationship between the Father and the Son did not jibe with the doctrine of the Trinity as it would evolve in the fourth and fifth centuries. Furthermore, later theologians did not feel entirely comfortable with Origen’s assertion that much of Scripture was not meant to be taken as literally true. Although the churchmen were generally content to accept his idea that there were other meanings in addition to the literal one, they did not like to think the literal sense was wrong or even (as we’ve seen Origen say about the myth of Eden) ridiculous.

Protestantism and Literalism

If the Catholic and Orthodox churches were always comfortable with a symbolic meaning to the Bible, where did today’s excruciating biblical literalism come from? Partly from Protestantism. Catholicism and Orthodoxy always regarded the Bible as an authority, but never as the authority: the teachings and practices of the Church itself were held to be of at least equal weight. The Catholic Church always insisted that the Bible could be easily misunderstood by those who lacked the proper training; this was why the Church discouraged Bible reading by laypeople until comparatively recently.

By the early modern era, however, the Catholic Church had become so corrupt that some Christian leaders (and many of the ordinary faithful) realised that the church was keeping an exclusive monopoly on spiritual power largely to suit its own worldly ends. In breaking with the church, these leaders – the Protestant Reformers – decided to return to the Bible as the only proper authority: sola scriptura, “Scripture only,” as the formula had it.

This in itself might not have been so problematic, but the Protestantism that reached the American frontier in the nineteenth century was dominated by men who had little education and little idea of any other literature than the Bible. Such people have always existed: Thomas Aquinas, the medieval Catholic theologian, was alluding to them when he said, “Timeo hominem unius libri”: “I fear a man of one book.” In the United States, and, I suspect, in much of the rest of the English-speaking world, evangelical Christianity has become co-opted by these “men of one book.” Today in many parts of the US, it is possible to go into people’s houses and see no other book than the Bible. It is this element in Christianity that has made its presence felt in the rise of fundamentalism.

As a result, the Bible’s inner meaning has increasingly become the province of esotericism. Regarding the story of Christ, in her book Esoteric Christianity the Theosophist Annie Besant speaks of “the Christ of the human Spirit, the Christ who is in every one of us, is born and lives, is crucified, rises from the dead, and ascends into heaven, in every suffering and triumphant ‘Son of Man.’” The story of Christ is thus the story of each of us; the Incarnation symbolises our own descent into the world of materiality, where we pass across the stage for a short while before being crucified on the cross of time and space. But this suffering and death is only transitory or even illusory, since the Logos – the principle of consciousness – in ourselves cannot die. It will be resurrected again in other forms, recognisable or otherwise. (In the Gospels the risen Christ is sometimes recognised by his disciples, sometimes not.)

Some may find themselves impatient with these ideas, insisting that they are nothing more than a way of skirting the issue of historical factuality that must supposedly serve as the bedrock of faith. But what, might one ask, is being dismissed as mere allegory? Viewed in the way sketched out above, the stories of the Exodus and the passion of Christ are not mere edifying tales of the past. Nor are they creeds for blind belief or flags around which to rally the faithful. Rather they are deep expressions of what is going on inside us now. To know from inner experience what it is to be spiritually in “the land of Egypt, the house of bondage,” to see the Logos in ourselves crucified on the cross of time and space, is not evasion but among the most profound insights a human being can have.

I would even take the argument a step further. An allegorical reading of the Bible can actually be more demanding than merely dwelling on the meaning of the letter. Acknowledging “Pharaoh,” “Moses,” the “scribes and Pharisees,” even Christ as parts of ourselves can be unsettling. Few are eager to come to grips with their inner tyrants and hypocrites, and there are possibly even fewer who can bear to see their own higher natures. After all, to know that Moses the lawgiver exists in oneself is already a step out of the house of bondage. To see the Christ within is already to experience a resurrection. Such realisations confer a responsibility upon us that we are not always delighted to face.

As a result, it is often easier to keep these things at the safe remove of antiquity – to follow the disputes about who was the Pharaoh of Exodus; to pore over accounts of recent excavations in Biblical Archaeology Review; to thrill over the latest news feature that breathlessly proffers some allegedly new fact about the historical Jesus. In such a way we can keep these issues alive, but at a comfortable distance: they remain ineluctably “other,” about people who lived long ago. I suspect that this dynamic helps explain the unshakable thirst for biblical archaeology among the American public.

All this said, there is admittedly a problem with leaning too heavily on allegorical readings of Scripture. To be no longer able to take one’s own myths literally – even while accepting them in a figurative sense – does strip them of their power. This is due to the limits of our own understanding; we as a civilisation seem unable to hear the message “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet believed” (John 20:29). This is not a call to blind, stupid faith; it is an appeal to recognise realities that do not present themselves to our physical eyes and hands – the “evidence of things unseen.” But, trusting as we do in the Gradgrindian world of cold, hard facts, we put more trust in texts than in our own inner experience. We discover that the texts are not telling the exact truth about history, and we lose our faith.

Despite the noise (much of it overstated) about rising fundamentalism in the Western world, this loss of faith is likely to accelerate. What will happen when the news sinks in and we collectively understand that much, perhaps most, of the Bible is not literally true? We may continue to see their beauty and power as myths, just as we do with the tales of the Olympian gods, but they will have lost their numinous force for us. We will see the old gods mocked and derided, as they were in antiquity in the satyr plays of the classical Athenian stage and the satires of Lucian, and as we see today in films like Dogma and Jesus Christ Superstar.

In such instances, new myths, new versions of eternal truths arise. What these will be in the future remains to be seen; it is hard to imagine that they will come from any religion now existing. Of the models of reality now available, it is above all the one provided by science that has most captured the imagination of the thinking public. Like Christianity in ancient times, it seems to offer truth in place of myth, actualities in place of legend. And then we are left with a question that, I suspect, will not be answered in the lifetime of anyone reading these pages now: what will happen when the facts of science, implacably hard and substantial as they now seem, are proved to be myths in turn?

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Bibliography

Dante Alighieri, Letter to Can Grande della Scala, Translated by James Marchand, http://medieval.ucdavis.edu/20B/Can.Grande.html

Margaret Barker, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God, Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox, 1992.

Annie Besant, Esoteric Christianity, or the Lesser Mysteries, Reprint, Wheaton, Ill.: Quest, 2006.

Harold Bloom, The American Religion, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.

Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, New York: Touchstone, 2001.

Susan A. Handelman, The Slayers of Moses: The Emergence of Rabbinic Interpretation in Modern Literary Theory, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1982.

Origen, On First Principles, Translated by G.W. Butterworth, Reprint, New York: Harper & Row, 1966.

Philo, The Works of Philo, Translated by C.D. Yonge, Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1993.

Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical Study of Its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede, Translated by W. Montgomery, Reprint, New York: Macmillan, 1961.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Translated by D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness, 2nd edition, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971.

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RICHARD SMOLEY is author of Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition; Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions (with Jay Kinney); and The Essential Nostradamus. His latest book is Conscious Love: Insights from Mystical Christianity. He is editor of Quest Books and is executive editor of Quest magazine. His web site is www.innerchristianity.com.

The above article appeared in New Dawn No. 110 (September-October 2008).

© Copyright New Dawn Magazine, http://www.newdawnmagazine.com. Permission granted to freely distribute this article for non-commercial purposes if unedited and copied in full, including this notice.

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Jesus Myth – The Case Against Historical Christ

I came across this website in my search for the beginnings of Christianity. I have since become convinced that Jesus was first a symbol of the sun, as is the case for all main religions. They are all first based on Astrotheology, and then go deeper from that starting point. I differ  with some of the anti-historical Jesus thinking about the Christ figure. Many of them are Atheists,  I am not. I think Atheism is a reaction to finding out the church has been lying to you for almost 2,000 friggin years! I understand it. BUT, if one would become able to read the allegory with the spiritual eye and see the meanings of the symbolism, you would see that myth is the best way to teach the nature of reality.  I certainly dig it. It is ever pregnant with deeper meaning and was designed to confuse the ‘profane.” In modern times we have quantum physics, which speaks in modern language (non mythical),  and yet mirrors precisely what the ancients said in their scriptures about nature of reality and our interconnectedness with creation.

By researching certain scientific test results and comparing it to ancient mythological wisdom,  I’m convinced that we are PARTICIPANTS and CO-CREATORS of reality. That was the essence of Jesus’s message. And of Buddha, Krishna and the now lesser known mythical figures.  The exoteric story, cloaked as history, is quite meaningless unless you can grasp the esoteric meaning.  That’s why I believe it’s important to know Jesus was a mythical person and Christ a form of Consciousness, symbolic of ourselves and other things ordinary language doesn’t convey. Thus the use of mythology. Myth doesn’t mean LIE, it doesn’t negate the existence of God, but rather better explains it. Perhaps the Gnostics were the fist Christians. (It is known Jewish Gnosticism goes back further than Christianity). The details have intentionally been lost, and as much as I’d like to know the facts, ultimately it’s not really important. It’s fascinating to know our core beliefs shape our reality. Notice the new paradigm since 9/11? FEAR! FEAR! FEAR! Even the weather is sensationalized to sound worse than it is. But Love conquers fear, we need to have love as part of our core belief, deep in our hearts, because it has been proven that our belief co-creates reality. We are truly Divine Spirits having a human experience. We are entangled with the whole universe, essential to it’s very existence, so much so that the Cosmos is actually a mirror of ourselves and could not exist without us, as above so below.

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 By – January 03, 2007

The majority of people in the world today assume or believe that Jesus Christ was at the very least a real person. Perhaps he wasn’t really “the Messiah”, perhaps he was not “The Son of God”, and perhaps he didn’t actually perform miracles and rise from the dead, but he really was a great moral teacher who traveled around Galilee with followers and got arrested by the Jews and crucified by the Romans right?

Not likely. In fact, a close examination of the evidence shows that the best explanation for the story of “Jesus Christ” is what we call “mythology”. The case that I will be outlining here is that there never was any “Jesus Christ” nor any meaningful real life basis for the story of “Jesus Christ”. Like many other religious figures, “Jesus Christ” began as a theological concept, was later used as a character in allegorical stories, and was then historicized as someone whom people believed really existed. The belief in a literal “human” Jesus most likely emerged as eucharist rituals and theology developed around the concept of the “flesh” and “blood” of Christ and these concepts merged with allegorical narratives about the figure.

What is the basis for the claim that “Jesus never existed”?

Actually, there are many important facts that support this conclusion. First let’s look at an outline of some of the major points in this case:

None of these points are meant to stand on their own, but collectively they provide a very strong argument against the story of Jesus Christ being based on a real person.

It is important to note that we have one, and only one, source of information about the life of Jesus and that is the Christian Gospels. The Gospels are the sole source of information about this figure; everything that we “know” about “him” depends on these sources.

There are two basic views of the Biblical Jesus as a real person today, the religious Christian view and the secular historical view. The religious Christian view takes the Gospels as accurate and reliable accounts of the life of Jesus, including all of the miracles. The religious Christian view demands that Jesus Christ was a popular and well known figure in the region, who drew crowds of thousands of people and performed great miracles, who was such a revolutionary figure that the Jewish priesthood was compelled to have him arrested and put to death in dramatic fashion before hundreds or thousands of witnesses.

The secular historical view, which may also be held by some Christians,  takes the Gospels as exaggerated accounts of the life of a real Jesus. The secular historical view basically starts with the Gospels and then removes the fantastic or “supernatural” claims in the Gospels and accepts what is left as history. The secular historical view tends to minimize the role of Jesus in the region, stating instead that he was barely noticed by others. Secular historians who believe that Jesus existed rely on the Gospels as essentially historical, but inflated, accounts of his life.

But are the Gospels reliable historical accounts?

via Jesus Myth – The Case Against Historical Christ.